The door to Buffalo Sabers' bench was slammed after many of their shifts. Boos echoes in the KeyBank Center after the first, second and third periods. Few glass wobbling hits were provided. And many of Saber's 38 shots on goal Sunday night resulted in the heads shaking in frustration or disbelief.
Although most of the sights and sounds of their 79th chapter were annoyingly familiar to the Saber, the thousands of empty seats in the third period of a 4-0 loss for Columbus Blue Jackets showed further how far professional Buffalo hockey is declined within four months.
After many of the announced crowds of 17,990 left early, one of the highest ovations of the night arose with the announcement that only one minute was left in regulation and a "CBJ" song entered the game. last moments. This reaction did not seem to surprise Sabers players after they were closed fifth in 1
"They have the right to be angry," says Saber wings Kyle Okposo. "They are right to be.) The second half has not gone as planned. It was just last night we were lifeless, today it was a little better, but it was 4-0. It is not good enough. We must Give them something to cheer for and we didn't do tonight. They have the right to be disturbed. They've been through a lot of pain, a lot of heartache, and we need to be better off for them. " 38-10) is 3-17-3 during their last 23 games, won only twice in 15 games during the month of March and has matched a season-high seven game winless streak. Their league-worst 36 points during the last 54 games led to their tumbling from the first to the 27th in the NHL.
Instead of preparing for his first playoff series as sabers general manager, Jason Botterill participates in the NHL Lottery in Toronto on April 9.
"It's always difficult when you don't get the results," sabers coach phil housley regretted. "I know this is part of the process for us. I am frustrated, for the most part I think our guys have worked very hard and they are not rewarded and they have to find their way. But it all takes our lineup. The one in the lineup, we can't have two or three guys because we just don't have that kind of range.
"It's frustrating. I understand the frustration of the fans. Guys are frustrated. They want to make themselves better at home here. Our home post has been good so I understand. "
Mike Harrington: It's hard to see how the saber manages their outlook
Saber were without four of their top seven defenders because of injury: Marco Scandella, Zach Bogosian, Rasmus Ristolainen and Matt Hunwick. But their defensive zone coverage was not as bad as it had been over the past month.
Instead, goaltending was a problem. Ullmark, which is 1-9-1 in his last 11 appearances, was caught out of position by his left post when Nick Foligno gave Columbus a 3-0 lead with a goal move to the right position at. 17.47 during the first period.
Ullmark also gave a five hole goal at. 15:31 into the second period, when Josh Anderson's left-wing shot went between the goalie's leg pockets. Again, Saber had trouble explaining how a goal against became an insurmountable deficit.
"I just think we're tightening up," Okposo said. "I thought our start was really good. We come out, we attack the game. … I don't know. I don't have all the answers right now. We have to play hard until the end. We have two more games at home and we have to come out and make a really good effort for our fans. "
Foligno believed that a three-goal lead was demoralization to the saber.
"Yes, not being rude – it's not my concern," Foligno said with a laugh. "Yes, no, I'm not worried about them. I just liked the way we played. Our goal is to get into the playoffs."
The saber fought again to create scoring chances. Okposo, Jack Eichel and Brandon Montour accounted for 20 of the team's 38 shots on target. Only two others had more than two shots. Their best scoring opportunity came in the third period when Montours slap shot created a rebound, but Skinner could not beat Bobrovsky from the slot.
Although Saber's fate was sealed more than a week ago, they again insisted no one had left three games left.
"Everyone is competing for something," said Saber defender Jake McCabe. "We do not stop. We show elasticity. The guys are struggling through the end, and of course we continue to end up on the wrong side of things right now, but we will continue harping [the importance of] compete and work ethics"